Neither the Millers nor the Bennetts are known for their long (or short) distance running ability. Even though a few of my cousins have run marathons and other races, most of us are just not built for running.
That is why we are so proud of our son Jeff. who ran and completed his fifth marathon last weekend. His latest 26.2 mile run was at the first ever Grand Lake Marathon, right here in Celina, and was the first marathon he has run in five years.
Jeff never ran in high school. Instead, he was an offensive lineman on Celina’s football team. He took up running when he was in college and his goal from the beginning was to run the Boston Marathon. But first he had to qualify for the Boston Marathon. He qualified in 2008 and accomplished his Boston Marathon goal in 2009.
We have been to each marathon Jeff has run, there to support him and cheer him on. And we sure enjoyed that trip to Boston!
Below is a rundown of Jeff’s marathons along with some of my recollections:
October 2007, Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon. TIME: 3:49.
This was Jeff’s first marathon. We started out very early that morning and dropped Jeff off as close as we could to the start of the race. We drove off and found a parking lot to park Jeff’s VW Jetta.
Joe and I have been driving for more years than we like to admit and we have driven many types of cars, but try as we might, we could not get his keys out of the ignition. We looked for a release button. Joe tried moving the shifter. I looked through the owner’s manual. But the keys would not come out. I even called VW support on my cell phone. Support was not helpful at all and I had the feeling they thought we were trying to steal the car. We didn’t want to miss the marathon but we could not leave the car in the lot with the keys in the ignition. Finally, after jiggling and shaking the steering wheel, the keys came out. (We later learned from Jeff that the steering column sometimes locks up and won’t release the keys. He couldn’t have warned us about that before??)
Jeff finished the race just fine but was chilling afterward, possibly from dehydration. On the way home he insisted we turn the car heat up as high as it would go, with the fan going full blast. It was so hot in that car! He was chilling in the back while were sweating up front.
He needed to run the race in 3:10 or less to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately he did not qualify in 2007, but there was next year.
October 2008, Nationwide Better Health Columbus Marathon. TIME: 3:08.
This time Jeff did qualify for Boston, needing a time of 3:10 or less to qualify. It was a very good run for him.
Jeff says that it helps immensely when people are there to cheer the runners on. At Columbus there are people cheering, bands playing, and other entertainment all along the race course. The whole event is very festive. We got to see Jeff run by several times by planning our route and cutting across streets and alleys.
April 2009, Boston Marathon, TIME: 3:33.
He made it! Jeff had qualified and was going to run in the Boston Marathon. We went sight-seeing for a day and a half and had the best time. Some of Jeff’s friends even traveled to Boston to take Jeff to a Red Sox game for his birthday and to cheer him on during his run. We all loved Boston! (The cemeteries were my favorite.)
On race day Jeff had to get up in the middle of the night to take the subway and train to the Boston Commons, where he got on a bus that took him to Hopkinton, where the race started. He said it was a rough course but he was encouraged by all the people cheering along the way. Afterward, runners were allowed to ride the train and subway for free and many people stopped to congratulate him and give him a pat on the back. The people of Boston were great.
September 2009, Air Force Marathon, Wright Patterson, Dayton; TIME: 3:30.
We should have left the hotel earlier that morning. When we turned onto the Air Force Base there was a long line of traffic. S L O W moving, stop and go traffic. There were car taillights ahead of us as far as the eye could see. And Jeff needed to get to the starting line ASAP. We got as close as we could to the parking area but time was running out. Jeff dashed out of the car and had to run a long, long way just to get to the start line. Nothing like a little sprint before the marathon even starts.
That day turned out to be hot. (I have learned that runners prefer to run in cool temps.) Parts of the course ran through restricted areas of the base and spectators were not allowed to cheer the runners on in those areas. Jeff recalls that it was lonesome and monotonous in those areas.
27 September 2014, Inaugural Grand Lake Marathon, Celina. TIME: 3:59.
Jeff enjoyed running in his home county and running by the lake. It started out cool but warmed up quite a bit by late morning. He appreciated the cheering people and the signs along the way and noticed there are a lot of corn fields in Mercer and Auglaize Counties.
I also want to congratulate Jeff’s wife Erin, who ran the Grand Lake 10K last Saturday, pushing Chloe in a stroller. They finished in 1:10. Way to go Erin and Chloe! This was Chloe’s first run since she was born, but Chloe was in a race before she was even born, when Erin and Jeff ran the Relay Around Columbus in June 2013.
Congrats to Jeff and Erin! We are proud of you both. Jeff said this may be his last marathon. We’ll just have to wait and see.
And kudos to all runners everywhere. Your long hours of training, your determination, endurance, and pain have been rewarded with your individual victories.